Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Adamw412

Is it really that bad?

Recommended Posts

I am considering submitting a package for an RPA spot in the ANG. After reading through some posts here, it seems that the consensus is this is a black hole, borderline career ender with not much room for advancement. Now, I’d need a waiver to join for age (34), and I've already got 12 years of service (AD and Guard) under my belt as enlisted, but it couldn’t be that bad of a move. Are those opinions mainly coming from people who were hoping to actually  fly and got assigned to RPAs instead? I can see how they’d think it’s miserable. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My Guard RPA unit has people rushing all the time and is a very favorable place to be IMHO. If your life goals are to fly high and go fast, yea, it's not a good fit, but go and actually talk to the people doing the mission in the units you're interested in and get some truth data for yourself. PM if you're in or willing to travel to TN and want to visit for a UTA sometime.

For background, I'm a similar age to you, flew on AD for 7+ years and was part of another Guard unit previously; Guard MQ-9 is by far the best deal for me and my family at this stage of our lives and I don't see any shortage of opportunities ahead of me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/6/2018 at 3:23 PM, Adamw412 said:

I am considering submitting a package for an RPA spot in the ANG. After reading through some posts here, it seems that the consensus is this is a black hole, borderline career ender with not much room for advancement. Now, I’d need a waiver to join for age (34), and I've already got 12 years of service (AD and Guard) under my belt as enlisted, but it couldn’t be that bad of a move. Are those opinions mainly coming from people who were hoping to actually  fly and got assigned to RPAs instead? I can see how they’d think it’s miserable. 

A big part of why people don't want to go RPA is because they don't want to go to Holloman, Creech, or Cannon.  If you're going ANG, you've already solved that particular problem.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As with anything, it's all about perspective and expectations. I spent 10 yrs AD, 4 as a Mx Officer and 6 in RPAs at Creech and Holloman, but recently switched over to a Guard MQ-9 unit last summer. My time in AD RPAs was a slow, grinding, soul-crushing experience that I tempered with copious amounts of alcohol. My experience in the Guard has been completely different, and for the better. There will always be the nature of the beast that is RPA ops that includes 24/7/365 operations, leading to working night shift, some weekends, and the occasional holiday. But even that aspect is a lot better than AD. For example, at Creech we worked 5-6 days on with 2-3 days off, for an 8 day work week where your "weekend" was always different. At my current Guard unit, they doped out the schedule Panama style where you only actually work about 15 days out of every 28 and every other weekend you have off as a 3-day weekend, but you work the other weekends.

Also, due to the constant ops, it's much easier to get orders when you want if you're going to be a part timer. I got an AGR spot, so the whole DGS world is still foreign to me, but you have to be Title 10 at most units to even fly, so you have to be on orders. I'm guessing it helps build up people's points for retirement pretty quickly.

To make a long story longer, every job has its pros and cons. It's just a matter of what your goals and aspirations are and if they match well. Just know the Guard units out there are not the same as the AD ones people speak of on these forums and elsewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/8/2018 at 5:48 AM, DeskPop said:

As with anything, it's all about perspective and expectations. I spent 10 yrs AD, 4 as a Mx Officer and 6 in RPAs at Creech and Holloman, but recently switched over to a Guard MQ-9 unit last summer. My time in AD RPAs was a slow, grinding, soul-crushing experience that I tempered with copious amounts of alcohol. My experience in the Guard has been completely different, and for the better. There will always be the nature of the beast that is RPA ops that includes 24/7/365 operations, leading to working night shift, some weekends, and the occasional holiday. But even that aspect is a lot better than AD. For example, at Creech we worked 5-6 days on with 2-3 days off, for an 8 day work week where your "weekend" was always different. At my current Guard unit, they doped out the schedule Panama style where you only actually work about 15 days out of every 28 and every other weekend you have off as a 3-day weekend, but you work the other weekends.

Also, due to the constant ops, it's much easier to get orders when you want if you're going to be a part timer. I got an AGR spot, so the whole DGS world is still foreign to me, but you have to be Title 10 at most units to even fly, so you have to be on orders. I'm guessing it helps build up people's points for retirement pretty quickly.

To make a long story longer, every job has its pros and cons. It's just a matter of what your goals and aspirations are and if they match well. Just know the Guard units out there are not the same as the AD ones people speak of on these forums and elsewhere.

Thanks for your input.  This really helps me with my decision about applying for RPA. I'm 27 now and it's a chance I might not be able to apply for CSO. However I recently PCS'd from a DGS unit but I worked in a intel support (comm) sq.  So I'm familiar with the mission. 

How likely is it for an AD member to land a RPA AGR spot? Would you suggest going the RPA active duty route first? 

What bases have RPA units, especially units that support the DGS? 

Thanks for reading...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/6/2018 at 2:23 PM, Adamw412 said:

I am considering submitting a package for an RPA spot in the ANG. After reading through some posts here, it seems that the consensus is this is a black hole, borderline career ender with not much room for advancement. Now, I’d need a waiver to join for age (34), and I've already got 12 years of service (AD and Guard) under my belt as enlisted, but it couldn’t be that bad of a move. Are those opinions mainly coming from people who were hoping to actually  fly and got assigned to RPAs instead? I can see how they’d think it’s miserable. 

Most of us that spent time manned flying are bitter because we were non vol to the RPA gig and miss our manned job. A lot of the guys that only know RPA flying enjoy it quite a bit more than us prior manned guys. You cant beat the mission and outside job opportunities once you have a qual are rather lucrative, $1800 a day lucrative. The guard/reserve schedule is also much less soul crushing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 6/11/2018 at 11:25 PM, JRNY90 said:

Thanks for your input.  This really helps me with my decision about applying for RPA. I'm 27 now and it's a chance I might not be able to apply for CSO. However I recently PCS'd from a DGS unit but I worked in a intel support (comm) sq.  So I'm familiar with the mission. 

How likely is it for an AD member to land a RPA AGR spot? Would you suggest going the RPA active duty route first? 

What bases have RPA units, especially units that support the DGS? 

Thanks for reading...

Sorry, I went dyslexic with DGS. I meant to say DSG, as in part-time guys. However, we all work with DGS in a geographically separated way, and I think Battle Creek, MI has a co-located DGS, but I'm not 100% on that.

Getting an AGR spot is all about timing and luck, as are many things in the AF. Having experience, qualifications, and networking definitely helps the process. If you go the AD route, you'll incur a 6-year service commitment, so just keep that in mind.

I came on as a Technician in a different unit and there happened to be an AGR spot open up about 6 months after I showed up. I was the only one on base that met the qualifications, so it worked out well. There are guys here who are on full 365-day orders, too, that aren't technically AGR but work just like it.

Via www.goang.com as an open source, current Guard RPA bases include:

Syracuse, NY

Niagra Falls, NY

Nashville, TN

Battle Creek, MI

Springfield, OH

Des Moines, IA

Fort Smith, AR

Tuscon, AZ

Riverside, CA

Fargo, ND

Houston, TX

Creech, NV

Reserves are at Hurlburt and Creech.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



×